So first off, what is up with this Polar Vortex thing? As if the first stint wasn’t bad enough, it came back!! I often think that I am better suited for Southern California than Pennsylvania, but there is one thing that I do love about winter in the Northeast, and that is running in the snow—assuming it is not practically zero degrees, like it has been. Yes, I am one of those nuts running on roads that are not even fit for cars or even sleds for that matter. I know that some people find such antics really annoying. I just can’t help myself though, running in the snow is very Zen-like for a hyper person like me. I had no intention on running (or blog writing) today, but just couldn’t resist and it spurred this blog post.
Light snow and a temp of about 20 degrees, which is better than zero, and the verdict that it looks “not too slippery out there”—and the snow run was on! So off I went, had only 1 wipe out (on some snow-covered ice, but no damage except for a dirty glove), and now I write as I literally thaw out. I wanted to share a song, which I do at the tail end, but a little background first.
People ask me a lot, why do you run? It is hard to explain so I usually give them some sort of generic answer. I have been running since the 7th grade, except during college when I just couldn’t get into it. Today, as an almost-40 year old with a really busy career, 2 young kids, and intense desire to help kids with cancer, there are days when I am really tired, when I don’t feel like “hitting the pavement” whatsoever. But on those days, all I need to do is think about my parents, how they are gone, how I am still here and fortunate to have good health, and how I have no excuse to not go outside and get some fresh air while I still can. I come from a family of Notre Dame Football fans, and so know this phrase well: “Play Like a Champion Today”. For me, the “today” is the poignant part; it does not say yesterday or tomorrow. “Play” may mean work or run or try to help somebody. “Champion” just means someone giving it all that they have in the tank at a given moment.
While I am on the topic of myself (sorry, I actually hate talking about myself but it is relevant), there are two aspects of my personality that I always thought were a major detriment and would always hold me back, but they are turning out to be good things! These traits are: (1) painfully shy and (2) profoundly sensitive. My shyness has improved with time, yet is still a part of me. In elementary school, I was probably a 9 out of 10 on a 10-point scale, and that gradually ticked down to a current rating of I’d say 5. To compensate for my innate shyness, I find that I wind up talking A LOT, way too much. The combination of shyness and an over-talker makes me, what I would call, quirky. I would guess that this quirkiness is either annoying or endearing, depending on one’s own mood and perspective, but it is what it is. Anyhow, when I don’t have an ear to talk to, I channel that energy into writing. And that means that I can write a lot, which is perfect for a professional oncology writer/childhood cancer blogger. So thank you shyness genes, you serve me well by making me prolific. As for being profoundly sensitive, that has not really changed over time, but I express it very differently. Being sensitive used to make me cry a lot as a kid, but I don’t cry very often anymore. My dad would always tell me, over and over again, “the world is a tough place and you need to toughen up”. All that would do is make me cry even more, as I would get so frustrated with myself, that I was not tough. When my mom was in her final days and after she passed away nearly 5 years ago, I cried so much that I would actually wake up with tears. I had no idea one could cry in their sleep. But then the tears suddenly stopped one day, and I just figured that I was dehydrated or that I clogged my tear ducts. But tears like that never really came back, even though I miss my parents now more than ever. Now I see the ceasing of the tears as just part of the healing, part of the toughening up (at least on the exterior!) that seemed like it would never happen. Now I can talk about my mom’s cancer ordeal and other emotional topics like childhood cancer without shedding a tear, which makes me a better, more effective advocate I think. Don’t let the tear-free eyes fool you though, I am no less sensitive or compassionate, especially about children battling cancer. I just cry in a different way.
Finally, after all that babble, I’ll get to the point of this blog post. Because of my aforementioned sensitivity, I am definitely touched and inspired by songs, probably more than the non-sensitive person. On my run today, one of my favorite songs came on, which is Answer in the Sky by Elton John off the very awesome Peachtree Road album. I don’t know if it was a radio song or not, but I am going to guess that some of you may have never heard it. It is one of those songs that I feel was kind of written just for me, and it strikes a nerve with me in a very good way. The words are very relevant to my journey into the childhood cancer community. They remind me how important it is to keep fighting for what I think is right, no matter what other people think or say. When it comes to kids with cancer, I must stay on course because I believe with everything I’ve got that better outcomes are achievable. In times of frustration, and there have been many so far, I can hear my mom say something along the lines of “Forget about yourself. You need to stick with this, you need to help those kids or you will regret it”. Then, a little dose of Answer in the Sky, and I am back to my quirky, spunky self. Anyhow, I encourage you to listen to this song or read these lyrics, think about them, and read them again when you need it. Stay safe everyone, and best wishes for the new year-
Author: Laurie O.
Lyrics for “Answer in the Sky” http://www.metrolyrics.com/answer-in-the-sky-lyrics-elton-john.html